Friday, June 03, 2011

TV Giant James Arness, 1923-2011

Beloved TV Western star James Arness has died today at the age of 88.

I chose the above headline without first considering the pun, insofar as Arness stood a very tall six foot, seven inches. But of course it truly must be said that Arness was a giant of the TV industry for his long-running role as Marshal Matt Dillon on TV's GUNSMOKE, a role which lasted two decades -- and even longer, when later TV-movies are added to the total.

His other TV roles included starring in the TV miniseries and series HOW THE WEST WAS WON, also known as THE MACAHANS.

Arness served in World War II, including the landing at Anzio. After the war his film career began as one of Loretta Young's very tall brothers in THE FARMER'S DAUGHTER (1947).

As his film career grew, his roles included playing a villain in John Ford's WAGON MASTER (1950) and appearing with mentor John Wayne in films such as BIG JIM MCLAIN (1952), ISLAND IN THE SKY (1953), and HONDO (1953).

Arness also famously appeared in the monster movies THE THING FROM ANOTHER WORLD (1951) and THEM! (1954). He had small roles in a number of classic films, including BATTLEGROUND (1949), STARS IN MY CROWN (1950), and CARBINE WILLIAMS (1952).

Other Arness films previously reviewed here: HORIZONS WEST (1952), THE LONE HAND (1953), and MANY RIVERS TO CROSS (1955).

Arness's brother, actor Peter Graves, passed away in March 2010.

Arness had the class and kindness to leave behind a letter to his fans, to be posted on his website after his passing. (Via Caftan Woman.) He shares some beautiful sentiments about his family, his career, his country, and all those who have enjoyed his work.

In his typically humble way, Arness writes, in part, "I wanted to take this time to thank all of you for the many years of being a fan of Gunsmoke, The Thing, How the West Was Won and all the other fun projects I was lucky enough to have been allowed to be a part of."

Thank you, Mr. Arness.


Blogger DKoren said...

Awwww, very sad.

11:22 AM  
Blogger Caftan Woman said...

It is very touching of Jim to leave a goodbye to us.

"Beloved" is such a perfect description of James Arness, Laura.

12:09 PM  
Blogger Audrey said...

Wow, I saw on his website that he also received a Purple Heart.

12:35 PM  

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